Archive for September, 2006
This post was inspired by Clear, who left a great comment on the previous entry. Check it out, then read my response below..
“And I’m in love with the people. The snatches of conversation in Arabic, the language of our conquerors, drifting towards me on whiffs of the Mediterranean, does something to me that I can’t explain.
The shoves from the random agents of the Muslim Brotherhood–and their wives–when they notice my paper-white arms gleaming back at them, when they see my long hair bannering behind me, are an immediate turn-on.
The spider-like presence of women dressed as ninjas–that black, that concealing–screams “home!” to me in a way I can’t explain.
The constant bickering and “No, it is YOU guys who are going to hell!” between Christian “sects” (not to mention between the actual faiths) reassures my faith in unity and love. (And for the record, I believe that it’s Jesus that’s the cornerstone, not how many times a day you pray or if you went to confession last week or even if you’ve been formally baptized.)
The failure to actually DO anything, save for whining and complaining, of some Copts about their predicament–and the total 180-attitude of others who insist that there IS no problem in Egypt for Christians–both make me want to move back to the city of my birth more than I can tell you.
And who can forget about the fact that I cannot be a College Dean, a Governor, or even a police officer (not that I’d want to be, since my subscription to “Non-Steroidal Rage Syndrome” has expired) because of my faith, and probably my sex.
It’s not the sha3b that makes this happen, perhaps, but they can’t or won’t stop it from happening.
And the way MY OWN PRESIDENT has either turned a blind eye to the way things are–or made it happen. That’s really the kicker about my love affair with the people of
Egypt. (And, by the way, whether I just referred to Mubarak or Bush, they both share the guilt for the crime of allowing
Egypt to continue to exist as she is. They are the wife that buys the Vodka for their alcoholic husband. They are the parent that buys white bread and ice cream for their rapidly-heavying son. They are the enablers, and, even if they aren’t the original source of the cavity, they’re the not-so-sweet sugar that makes the decay and ROT so much worse.
I know that ALL Egyptians are suffering, either from the lack of freedom or from the economy. (And, in some cases, the religious thing.) I KNOW it’s not just the Copts who have it less-than-good.
But I also know that if there was a march on the Egyptian equivalent to the White House in
America, they would HAVE to do something. They couldn’t arrest us all! Or, if they did, everyone would be in jail and the world outside would have to take action and either stop giving money to propagate these atrocious acts of silliness–or they’d take over.
It may even start a (civil?) war, or make another
Iraq (God forbid).
The people are part of
Egypt, but they’re also part of what’s WRONG with
Egypt, and, to a certain extent, I love Egyptians. But I also want to slap some of them around for clinging to outdated modes of behavior like complacency, gossiping, thinking someone’s immoral because they had dinner with someone from the opposite sex. OK, I can understand the root of these things, and, to a certain extent, I agree.
But I also see the myriad PROBLEMS that have led to a rather stunted society–socially, culturally, psychologically, emotionally.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love Arabic and don’t speak a word of Coptic, I do love the hospitality and the 3ozooma and the pesky strangers that ask when I’m going to buckle down and “get a real job and have some beautiful babies.” (Sort of.)
Don’t get me wrong, there ARE lots of Muslims who do more good for the cause (well, all the causes) than some Copts do. There ARE lots of people that have defended me from shoves and jibes in
Egypt. There ARE those who actively fight for the type of
Egypt that I long for, The New Egypt.
But even that cuts me to the quick, for I am unable to put my hands into the fight. I have to watch from a distance, writing about things I’m (for the most part) not a part of anymore. And it kills me.
I am not CONTENT to watch protests on TV, or from my laptop. It is not enough.
My eyes mist, water, spill as I see my brothers and sisters fighting for change.
I WEEP because I cannot join in, not now and perhaps not ever.
But more so, I weep because I am PROUD of them, so proud that my heart will burst for love of them. For love of Egyptians. For love of
(I wrote this last month, but dear Asser reminded me of it just now, so…)
Egypt. I love everything about her. I have in my mind’s eye a catalogue of everything she delights me with, and linger on it when I am far from home.
I love her eyes, rimmed with kohl and sparkling with mischief, even if the world is falling down around her, which it usually is. I love her gaze, which cements her love for me despite the fact that I must sometimes leave her. I love her eyes and the things she shows me through them, dozens of shapes and 10 times as many skin tones, swirling together with the blue-green sea, the cloudless skies, the buttercup stones stacked atop one another, pointing at the heavens.
I am in love with the scent of the sea, intermingled with jasmine, sheesha, and a noxious pollution that will probably kill me. But what care I of death when there is such a perfume to be had?
I love her voice, and all of the different sounds she makes; the tabla, the tambourine, the calax..
I am seduced on all sides, feeling the myriad voices—a wall of them joined, striking me palpably—chanting “Kyrie Elieson” from the right, and the sinuous slide of the Azan on the left. They grip me with invisible fingers, wrap about me with tentacles unseen.
Most of all, though, I love how I feel when I am with her. It’s not just the sounds or the sights or even just the hustle and bustle of things… it’s everything, mingled, mixed, amalgamated.
It’s the fact that I feel these things on my lips, behind my eyes, and in my very lungs, when I am away from home. It only eases the ache a little, though, for memories do plague a person, prey on their minds whilst far from their dearest, as I am to my beloved.
When I am apart from her, I am bereft, lost to myself, separated from myself..
It’s been said that “you can’t please all the people all the time.” It’s also been said that you can’t please any of the people any of the time, and to be very frank, it feels like I’m living the latter.
I want to say one thing, both to my fans and to the people who think I’m a fiend of hell who should shut her mouth and have her keyboard confiscated–I write to lend a voice to those who have none. If you don’t like the topics I choose to write about–or the way I’ve chosen to handle them–I’m sorry for you. But not sorry enough to stop.
See, not one article I’ve written has been my idea. Or, if it has, it’s been inspired by Egyptians in Egypt and Egyptians in the diaspora. People have asked me to write about these things. When people hear I have a blog(albeit not very popular), they BEG me to write something, in fair-to-middling English, so that other English-speakers out there can hear about the problems that are on the minds of the people who’ve begged me to write about them. The problems, I mean.
Let me tell you another thing–some of the people who leave the great comments in this blog assume that I’ve either never lived in the West, never lived in Egypt, never dealt with Muslims, never dealt with Christians, that I’m a spoiled kid, that I’m a jaded old hag, and hundreds of other things(that may or may not be true).
I don’t write on the basis of my own experience, although I have A LOT to draw upon in that area. I have friends and family members who have LOST their daughters to Muslims and even Christians of “unacceptable” denominations.
Just last week, one of my cousins married a guy from “the wrong denomination,” and that was the week that her family disowned her.
Just last month, a distant aunt of mine in Toronto was weeping on the phone, telling me that her daughter had been seduced by a Muslim guy, and that he divorced her a few weeks after she’d left the family to marry him.
Just last year, I turned down a guy–who could very well have been the love of my life–because he wanted me to convert to another faith or denomination (sorry I can’t tell you which..!).
All I’m trying to say is that I’m no one special, I don’t have a monopoly on the truth or on the way things are. But I have so much life experience, and so much of it has broken my heart.
I’ve done and seen things that would shock you. I’ve also been kept from things that most people take for granted. My heart BREAKS when I think of people suffering–whether physically or emotionally or (especially) spiritually… because I’ve been there. I would have my arms and legs sawed off (without anaesthetic) if it would save even one person from an inch or an ounce of the pain that I’ve witnessed and undergone in my life. And I never want to offend or sadden or anger anyone, by word or thought or deed.
But, by denying my pen and my voice to the people who rely on me, I would be hurting them more than I’d hurt you by saying something that you might think is “off the wall.”
Please. I speak in love. My bark is infinitely worse than my bite. And I want to be your friend, no matter who you pray to, what your vision of heaven is, or who you rooted for in the World Cup.
Blessings, hugs, and kisses,
While Catholicism isn’t the prevailing Christian denomination in Egypt, there are certainly many Catholics living and worshipping in the land of the pharaohs. The Catholic community in the village of Fayoum was rocked on 8/17, when a young lady, Mona Yacoub, was kidnapped just 10 days before her wedding.
A Muslim guy called Khalid had tried to win her several months earlier, and he is the prime suspect (unofficially, anyway) in the case.
Unfortunately, though, the officials aren’t being all that helpful. That’s why we’re taking matters into our own hands (but I’m getting ahead of myself).
Before I tell you how YOU can help, I should probably let you know the latest in this case.
You may be wondering why it’s taken nearly three weeks for the case to make headlines, and the truth is that the officials have been appeasing Mona’s friends and family for some time now, assuring them that they were on the case, and even making dates to bring Mona back to her family.
These officials, however, keep standing the Yacoub family up.
Unsurprising, of course (since this IS Egypt and the Yacoubs ARE Christians), but hardly welcome behavior from the people who are supposed to be protecting the people in their town. (What was that old saying about the fox in the henhouse..?) In any case, a video has recently come out, depicting a drugged up Mona, saying that she is still a Christian, but that she signed a paper for a “gawaz orfi”(marriage by agreement, rather than church wedding) and is now married.
For those who wonder what the big deal is “since she is alive and well and can just divorce Khalid or her kidnapper and marry her fiancé,” they must not know the mindset of the Egyptian man, and especially, the mindset of the Saiidi man. Men from Upper Egypt (the Saiid) are quite keen on family honor, pride, and the like. So it could be that the kidnappers were striking at the pride of the family, knowing that her father and her fiancé would never welcome her back if she had either married or lost her virginity (to a Muslim, no less).
Another reason that she may have been kidnapped is that Arab and Egyptian (and particularly Muslim) men can easily become obsessed with the object of their affection.
So perhaps this Khalid pulled this stunt in order get her, or, more insidiously, to get her back for spurning him in the first place.
A third reason that this could have happened is because of the family Mona came from. Her sister is a nun at a local convent, and her uncle is a priest in the Catholic church.
This may not make sense to Western readers until they read the following excerpt from “Confessions of a former Islamist.”
“The cost in the seventies and early eighties was about five thousand Egyptian pounds for the entrapment of each girl. The money was split so that the Muslim man who lured the Christian woman into conversion received half and the members of the police and collaborating associations would receive the other half. The work of the proselytizing associations in Egypt continues to take place and the payments for deceptive conversions are now higher. Today the average payment for an ordinary girl is ten thousand Egyptian pounds and payments can be as high as two hundred thousand Egyptian pounds if the girl is from a well-known Christian family, or is the daughter of a university professor, a deputy minister, or related to someone from the clergy.” (From : http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=18167 )
So, as you can see—straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were—there are some pretty nefarious agents out there, and it’s clear that they work for “Allah,” aka “The Devil.”
So what can we do, then?
The Call to Action
It’s very simple; if you ask yourself “Self, how many kidnappings have I heard of in the past six or twelve months?” the answer won’t be a huge number.
This is likely because not many people hear about this string of sadness, and those who do make it their business to follow what’s going on in Egypt or the Coptic Church.
This time, however, a new angle has been introduced—Catholicism.
I wonder if the international Catholic Church will do more to help their daughter than the Orthodox church has “done” in the past? (This is not a slam on the Coptic church, only an exclamation of disgust from someone whose blood is BOILING over the dozens and hundreds of girls that get kidnapped, attacked, or even seduced EVERY SINGLE MONTH.
Anyone who says that it’s an uncommon practice doesn’t know what he’s talking about. (You’ll notice I said “he’s talking about,” and that is because most women know the stunts that men can pull, especially when money, sex, or “paradise” are the carrots dangling in front of them.)
On to what YOU can do, it’s very simple (as I may have mentioned above).
Just pretend this is the Gospel and SPREAD the (not-so-Good) news. TELL people about this poor girl.
Tell your friends online, skip the gossip and share THIS around the water cooler, or even just forward this and other articles to people who might be interested.
Also, educate yourself about kidnapping. It happens all over Egypt, and most cases end up in tragedy, not with a “happy ending.”
That’s not to say that there’s NEVER a happy ending, only that they’re few and far-between. Here are some great articles that elucidate what’s going on:
and this is an excellent analysis by Magdy Khalil:
Finally, for the Catholics out there, WRITE to your bishop or priest, and ask them to tell the Pope about his Egyptian daughter whose status as a Christian is hanging in the balance.
Our ultimate goal is to get the Pope to ask Mubarak to intervene and BRING MONA BACK.
You know, I just finished listening to an audio file from www.copts-united.com (it’s in Arabic, just in case you happen to understand the language) and I was blown away by her fiancé’s interview; lots of Egyptian guys would (in their insecurity) either write off a missing wife-to-be, or be discouraged by a video that stated she was married to another.
This guy, however, is a prince, and unequivocally stated that he wouldn’t believe her sham of a “gawaz orfi” unless he heard it from her own lips.
May God protect Mona and bring her back to her prince of a fiancé, and give them many wonderful years together, serving Him and using their sad experience for good, and for the protection of a whole generation of girls who simply can’t believe that the Ahmed, Mohammed or Khalid next door could ever be capable of the crimes their “religion” allows, and, in fact, encourages.
By Sara Ghorab